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Socio-technical transformation processes for a sustainable construction sector in the bioeconomy: Regional lead markets and global innovation systems

TRABBI is a five-year research project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under the funding programme 'Bioeconomy as Societal Change'. The junior research group investigates innovation systems and socio-technical structures in the construction sector. The transformation of the global economic system towards a bioeconomy is associated with profound societal changes, which, however, are shaped differently across regions. Against this background, we examine transformation processes towards a sustainable construction sector in the context of the bioeconomy. This involves analyzing innovation systems, socio-technical regimes, and lead market structures at the global, national, and regional level. The national and regional research focuses on Germany, Italy, China, and India.


The bioeconomy is an important part of a carbon-neutral economy and can harmonize social, economic, and environmental sustainability goals. Against this background, the bioeconomy is increasingly gaining significance in German and European discourses, both in academia and politics. The transformation of the current economic system towards one based on natural and renewable resources presents a complex societal challenge that cannot be solved solely through the development of technological solutions. Rather, it requires a transformation of socio-technical regimes and changes in global innovation systems, which include not only the development of innovations in the bioeconomy but also their global application and diffusion. These global structures influence innovation processes and the configuration of socio-technical regimes at the national and regional levels. At the same time, regions and nations influence the development of these global structures. Therefore, in order to understand and steer societal transformation processes towards a bioeconomy through appropriate measures, a multi-scalar perspective is necessary, considering global, national, and regional levels.

Transitions in the construction sector

The construction sector, more than almost any other sector, faces enormous challenges in achieving a sustainability transformation. While some of the sector's environmentally relevant problems are already being addressed technologically, such as the energy efficiency of buildings or the integration of renewable energies, challenges remain that are related to the negative environmental impact of building materials. Global greenhouse gas emissions from the production of steel (7.2% of global CO2e, including iron) and cement (3% of global CO2e) are about half attributable to the construction sector in the case of steel, while the use of cement can be attributed almost exclusively to the construction sector. Even if the energy for the production of steel and cement can come from renewable sources in the future, the emissions that result from the chemical production itself remain. The bioeconomy is gaining importance in this context, and bioeconomy innovations can stimulate transformation processes.

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